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Forever Brightening, Never Lightening

Forever brightening, never lightening

When I walk by Sephora I hear words like ‘radiance’ and ‘glow’, but that’s not enough, even in Canada. 

Fair and lovely isn’t just a term you hear overseas, it’s a standard of beauty within communities of color in North America and, disturbingly enough, it’s a skin service request. 

It’s no longer enough for me to say ‘No, we don’t do this’. I want to take responsibility as a medical aesthetician to educate my patients and community on the difference between committing to altering your DNA due to repression as a person of color, and working toward brightening your complexion, radiating your natural color upon the world. 

Before I talk about science, I want to let my readers know that it took all of my childhood and most of my youth to understand the toll these standards took on me, my family, my friends, and my community. I have stayed out of the sun, been baffled at the concept of tanning, and spent many years not flinching at the question “is s/he light-skinned?”. I am speaking to you now as someone who has been learning from clients, courses, and life and wants to see a change in an industry that does so much good for inner confidence but can do much more. 

1) Skin lightening is an intense method used to reduce or suppress pigmentation. For example, commonly in India, there are injections given to suppress melanin production in the body. These injections use the active ingredient glutathione, which is already produced in the human body and can spur fantastic results as an antioxidant or anti-inflammatory. However, this procedure uses an extremely high dose of the ingredient in order to stop the production of tyrosinase, an enzyme in our body that is responsible for producing melanin. Here in Canada, hydroquinone is used as a topical lightening treatment in order to inhibit the melanin production in your skin. 

2) Skin brightening as a method is more gradual, the effects are subtle, and the skin reflects a glow, vibrancy, and radiance. Brightening the skin is, in short, removing dull and dead skin cells, repairing the skin from within, and restoring overall natural luminosity to the skin. This can be done with intensive exfoliation such as chemical peels, micro-needling, and microdermabrasion in conjunction with the consistent use of medical-grade skin products (AlumierMD, iS Clinical, SkinMedica, SkinCeuticals, ZO Skin Health)

3) Lightening and brightening products and treatments are not the same – the difference is the degree to which melanin production is reduced. And while brightening procedures do incur some downtime, lightening procedures are known to be linked to cancers and can cause major skin discoloration if they are done without the right protocol.

Each generation comes with its own beliefs, but colorism runs into our lives through culture, social status, and is passed down generations. I am proud to have beauty and confidence role models like @deepica and @ninadavuluri, and hope to create an impact for anyone that looks up to me both as a role model as well as their medical aesthetician.